Introduction

Reflective
teaching is a process where teachers consider and analysis different aspects of
their teaching practice. According to Jack C. Richards, reflection ‘refers to
an activity or process in which an experience is recalled considered, and evaluated.’
(2000, p. 21)  Bartlet states that to
become a reflective teacher, a teacher must go ‘beyond a primary concern with
instructional techniques and “how to” questions and asking “what” and “why”
questions that regard instructions and managerial techniques not as ends in
themselves, but as part of broader educational purposes.’ Reflection plays an
important role in being a teacher. It is essential that teachers reflect on the
different areas of their teaching such as what they do in the classroom, why
they do what they do, asking themselves did it work and asking themselves how
could their practice be improved to achieve being learning outcomes, to improve
as teachers as well as improving the learning for their students. Through
reflection, teachers have a methodical and organised way of ‘collecting,
recording and analysing their thoughts and observations, as well as those of
their students, and then going on to making changes.’ (Tice, 2004) 

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            There are many reason why teacher
should reflect on their teaching. One of the main reasons is that teaching is
all about life-long learning and improvement. As the world changes so does
education. Therefore, teachers must keep up to date with the latest methods and
approaches. Also, if teachers do not analysis and assess on their teaching,
they cannot improve it. 

Brookfield
(1995) argues that another reason teachers need to reflect on their teaching is
because it gives them an awareness about their students as well as insight into
their needs and abilities. Each student is different as a result each classroom
is different. Teachers must see their practice through the eyes of their
students. Brookfield states that: ‘Of all the pedagogic tasks teachers face,
getting inside students’ heads is one of the trickiest. It’s also one of the
most crucial.’ (1995, p. 92)

            Over the last two years of the
Professional Masters in Education, active learning has been promoted over
passive learning. Teachers must model these new concepts. It is believed that
if teachers use the reflective approach, it will make it easier to use
reflection with our students. By students scrutinising and assessing their own
work, this will help them improve their learning as well as allow them to become
more independent learners. These are key skills in active learning.

             One of the most popular ways to reflect on
teaching practice is writing a reflective journal. Over a six week period, I
taught my first year students about the Romans. During this time, I wrote a
journal detailing my observations and evaluating my lessons. In this
assignment, I will outline my reflections ????????

To
put my reflections into context, I have worked in two very different schools.
Last year I worked in a DEIS school and this year I work in a voluntary
secondary school.  Both school are in an
affluent area of Dublin. Last year, I taught all boys while this year I am
teaching all girls. The boys had a more laid back approach to learning while
the girls are very motivated and eager to learn.  

Noessel
(2003) states that students’ needs are represented by the difference between what
the learner wants to achieve from the learning experience and their current
state of knowledge, skill, and enthusiasm. There are four types of learner
need. They are Cognitive, Affective, Psychomotor and Social. It is important to
identify learners’ needs because it helps the teachers with learner placement,
developing materials and teaching methods.

Assessing
the needs of students is not something I am very good at. In the school this
year, there is a great resource teacher who is well-organised. There is a
folder on the computer with a list of all the students’ needs and their
difficulties. This has been very useful because it has helped me when
differentiating my lessons. Petty has defined differentiation as ‘the process
by which differences between learners are accommodated so that all students in
a group have the best possible chance of learning.’ In my first year group,
there is one student with a learning difficulty. One way that I differentiate for
her, in the classroom, is by giving her easier resources to the rest of the
class. For example, I used a secondary source which had been rewritten into
simpler language for her. It contained the same information but at the level
she could comprehend. As there is assigned seats, I was able to put her
differentiated worksheet in the pile and hand it out with the rest of the
groups. Also, students were working individually so no other students saw that
she had a different sheet. It worked well as she answered all the questions and
did not copy of other students as she had done previously.

Another
way that I differentiate is by appealing to different learning styles. Gardner
(1983) argued that everyone has multiple intelligences.  He believed that different parts of the brain
contained different intelligences which worked either independently or in
tandem. For him, there were 9 intelligences such as verbal-linguistic,
visual-spatial, bodily-kinaesthetic as well as interpersonal and intrapersonal
intelligences.

When
I am planning my lessons, I tried to include as many of these intelligences as
possible. For example, when we were studying the Romans, I used a lot of
visuals such as paintings, mosaics, drawing of the houses, videos, and cartoon
pictures. For example, I used mosaics with different pictures of
fruits and animals to talk about the food that Romans ate. Also, I use
different colours when writing on the whiteboard. In my power-point presentations,
I highlight the keywords with different colours. I get students to make
mind-maps on topic individually and working in groups combining all their
ideas. This appeals to visuals learners.

When
assessing their learning, I use thumbs up, thumbs down or I sometimes get them
to stand up, sit down. I also do roleplays, projects and make models. This is
for bodily-kinaesthetic learner. I also plan for verbal linguistic learners by
planning group discussions, giving worksheets, playing word games and asking questions.
I try to do pair-work and group work with the students. This appeals to
interpersonal learners. Students also work individually. I also try to connect
the topics to the students’ personal lives where possible and also assess their
prior knowledge of a topic. This appeals to the intrapersonal learners.

For
example, when we were discussing the types of Roman houses, I used a cartoon
picture of the interior of a Roman insula with a street scene as well. It was a
good picture as it had a lot going all in it. I had evaluated it to make sure
it covered all points I wanted to cover. I asked students to write down
everything they saw after giving them a minute to do so individually. After
this, I asked students to compare what they had written down in pairs. I drew a
mind-map on the whiteboard with their observations. I elicited any information
which the students did not pick up on. For homework, I asked the students to
make a model of an insula made of lollipop sticks and cardboard. By doing this,
I used a number of strategies that appealed to different learning intelligences
such as visual, verbal-linguistic, intrapersonal, interpersonal and bodily-kinaesthetic.
The students were engaged throughout as they responded well to questions and
they asked questions. When I assessed their learning, a good amount of learning
was achieved.

?         considering
strategies which will support their learning

There
are many different strategies which can be used to support a students’
learning. Some of the strategies I have used are flashcards, exit slips, mind-mapping,
and graphic organisers

            Flashcards can be a very useful
strategy to help students of history. They are a good method to consolidate and
reinforce your knowledge. I ask my students to make flashcards as they are
learning the topic. They write down the key terms and a short explanation on
the other side. Hermann Ebbinghaus had a theory called ‘forgetting curve’ in
which he stated that the most memory is within the two hours of memorising the
information. (1885, p.  For excellent
recall, one must review the information within the first two hours, after this
one must review the information after a day, then week later, a month later and
finally three to six months later (Ebbinghaus as cited in O’Brien). I shared
this technique with my students who memorise a lot of the information. Unlike
the boys I taught last year who put all the information into their own words.

            Exit slips are a good method for
students to reflect on what they have learnt. At the end of class, I give students
prompts such as write down one thing you have learnt, one thing you found
difficult, one thing that you easy, and one thing you would like to know more
about. However, I do not always use this technique effectively as I do not
always leave enough time for students to fully reflect. Because of this,
students do not give detailed answers and also they say that they do not find
anything difficult. This might be true but with more with thought maybe they
could find something. Also, some of the students call out or chat when doing
this and it is not effective. It worked better towards the end of the year because
I gave them more time to reflect and the boys did not talk during it.

            Mind-mapping is good strategy for assessing
learning. They are a good way to visually convey ideas and see what information
they have gained. There are a number of benefits to using mind-mapping in the
classroom such as it they can help with to better recall information, and with
high order processing. Two challenges were that the students had little experience
with using mind-maps and they felt uncomfortable with the non-linear way that
the information was structured. I found these two challenges with my second
year class. Having this experience, I introduced the idea of mind-mapping well
conveying the benefits. I was surprised how well the class took on the idea and
how enthusiastic they were to start.

I
wanted to use a mind-map to assess their knowledge after learning about the
Romans. Firstly, I asked my students to create a mind-map individually with a
few prompts. Then, I put my students into groups of three to compare their
mind-maps. Then, I asked students to create a big mind-map which encompassed their
ideas on big A3 size paper. I asked the art teacher for art supplies such as scissors,
markers, colouring pencils, glue and white paper. The students were very enthusiastic.
After we were finished the class they asked if they could continue making them
in the next class. It also helped students develop their spatial awareness as
they had to decide how they would organise the information. I had a rubric
which I worked off to assess their mind-maps. By doing individual mind-maps, I
could take them up and assess the students individually which gave me a better
gauge of the information they absorbed.

            Graphic organisers are useful for
learning as it gives students ‘a scaffold the development of ideas and
construction of knowledge’ (PDST, 2008) It can be used as a form of formative
assessment. For example, I used the placemat